Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Salon des Refuses

You may have heard that Penguin Canada recently put out a new anthology of Canadian Short Stories. You may also have heard that it doesn't seem to contain a number of true innovators of the form--people like Clark Blaise, Mark Jarman and Heather Birrell. To make these omissions a bit more obvious--and perhaps a bit more appreciated, The New Quarterly and Canadian Notes and Queries have worked together to create The Salon des Refuses (I'm sorry, I can't for the life of me get Blogger to do the accent). The summer issues of these two journals will showcase some of the best of what's being done with short stories these days, and to talk about stories in general and in specific. I suspect there will be some word for the art of anthologizing, as well.

These two issues will be on newsstands this month, and if you subscribe to one I think the other one will just turn up, too (good deal!) There's also going to be a This is Not a Reading Series event--a literary forum--on Wednesday August 13, at the Gladstone, from 8:30 to 10:30. I'm stoked.

Full disclosure: I have work in both these issues, too. There's the Metcalf-Rooke Award feature--three stories plus an interview with Amy King--in TNQ, and a long profile with John on the writing life in CNQ. Getting to rub margins with the Salon authors is a huge honour, and it does inspire the imagination...maybe if I keep on going, keep writing and rewriting, keep learning and asking questions and leaving parties at 10:30 to go home and work, someday in the far off future, I too could be ignored by a prestigious anthology. In such company, it's a pretty heady thought.

I love all the boys with the band


Ransermo said...

I have heard a lot about people being left out of the anthology. Is the anthology still worth picking up?

frede said...

ooh I've heard about this as well which is saying something since I'm such a philistine about these things. Glad people are being recognized in some way.

Intersection said...

When I was in Prof. Brown's class he talked at length about the selection process for "A New Anthology of Canadian Literature in English" by Oxford U P. It is the standard 'textbook', if you will, for canlit classes. The process is absurdly rigorous and a lot of lists are sent out to other profs for their feedback. Because his and Donna Bennett's anthology is a canonical thing... debate can get pretty rough. For example it took a few editions to get someone like J.G. Sime in there (likely Canada's first feminist urban writer). There is also a lot of 'tokenism' try to reflect the make up of the nation. So a lot of the newer editions were people like Dionne Brand, Rohinton Mistry, or Thomson Highway. Because these writers represent an issue or critical debate within the field they'll get in there. Writers like Smith, Winter, or Moore will probably never be anthologized in a major school text like this simply because they are not an issue to teach. Of course... if someone made them an issue somehow they might sneak. For example, Smith may get a short story snuck in for his blatant hatred for the suburban, the past, and the rural.

Rebecca Rosenblum said...

Brandon--That's interesting, and somewhat sad, to learn. Well, Mr. Smith is in the Salon, which is cooler anyway!!

Scott--You know, I haven't examined it in depth. It's expensive and I hear only bad things, but I imagine there really are some good stories in therer somewhere.

Fred--Hi!! You are not a philistine!!